Sons of Blackbird Mountain – Joanne Bischof – Blackbird Mountain #1 – Thomas Nelson – Published 3 July 2018
When Aven Norgaard leaves Norway to serve as housekeeper to her late husband’s cousins in Appalachia, she expects lads in need of care, not three grown men—each in need of a wife and bound by a powerful brotherhood. As the men carve out a living by brewing artisan liquor, young Haakon’s pursuit tempts Aven’s lonely spirit . . . but it is his deaf brother, Thor, whose silent strength shows her the depths of real love.
Unable to speak to any woman, Thor Norgaard never anticipates Aven will befriend him, let alone treat him as her safe harbor. Though hard cider is their livelihood and his greatest talent, he fights his way to sobriety with Haakon’s help, defying the bottle for Aven’s hand—only to face a battle of the heart that tests even the strongest bonds of brotherhood.
Sons of Blackbird Mountain is an utterly charming and beautiful historical novel. Set in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, it combines the complexity of brotherly relationships and finding a place to belong, with the sweet joy of finding a true love connection, despite many challenges.
Aven Norgaard has faced many challenges in her short life. Having escaped from the workhouse, her husband then died. Travelling from Norway across the oceans to Appalachia, America, Aven hopes to find a home with her late husband’s relatives. Upon arriving, Aven is surprised to discover that her cousins-in-law are not the boys she expected but grown men – each with their own demons and attractions. Thor Norgaard has loved Aven from a distance for years, but having her in his house is a new and unsettling feeling. Deaf, Thor is touched that Aven seems to truly hear him, yet his relationship with his brother Haakon -already strained – is stretched further and Thor’s own battle with alcohol addiction is a challenge he must overcome if he wants to court Aven.
This is the first book that I have read by Joanne Bischof. I have many of her titles on my to-read list, but Sons of Blackbird Mountain is the first I have had occasion to pick up. And I am so very glad that I did. Sons of Blackbird Mountain is so wonderfully well written. Sinking into the characters’ lives and voices was enthralling. Bischof brings the characters to life so vibrantly, as she does with the relationships between them. This book delves into the complexity of relationships both familial and romantic. The connection between Thor and Aven was incredibly heartening. Though at first communication is difficult, Aven is keen to connect with Thor. And despite Thor’s size and alcohol addiction, he is infinitely gentle and understanding with Aven. Both have faced many challenges and hurts in the past and present. Both long for connection. Both find in the other a refuge.
Thor’s battle with addiction forms a large part of this book. I believe that the ongoing struggle and the harsh reality of detoxing was accurately portrayed. The brotherly relationship between Thor, Jorgan and Haakon is the other shining star of this novel. They banter, support, fight, and compete in everything.
Sons of Blackbird Mountain has a bitter sweet ending. After so much hurt and turmoil it was wonderful to read of the characters’ happy endings, yet there are still journeys in progress. I can’t wait to read the next book, which I sincerely hope will be Haakon’s story of redemption. Such a hurting young man deserves his own happy ending.
Honestly, I just loved this book. Combining history, family, relationships, the fight against racial prejudice and strength of character, this story touched my heart and made me smile. Joanne Bischof earned a place on my must-read list with this charming and delightful historical novel.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Christian historical.
Themes: Romance, addiction, brothers, friendships, family, racism, prejudice, Appalachian Mountains.
Published: 3 July 2018 by Thomas Nelson.
Format: Paperback, ebook, audiobook. 352 pages.